Bona Fide Purchaser

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Bona Fide Purchaser

 

in civil law, a person who has acquired property without knowing that the person from whom he has acquired it did not have the right to sell, give, or exchange it. The sale of stolen or found goods, in particular, is unlawful. The bona fide purchaser is the person who not only did not know but also should not have known and could not have known of the unlawfulness of his acquisition. This means that when acquiring a particular article one must exercise caution; for example, the acquisition of an article at too low a price under suspicious circumstances may serve as the basis for concluding that the purchaser, although he did not know for certain, could have and should have assumed that he was acquiring a stolen article. A purchaser who knew or should have known of the unlawfulness of the transaction is recognized as a bad-faith purchaser.

Good faith in acquisition is very important in the recovery by an owner of property in the unlawful possession of another person; for example, in Soviet civil law money and securities may not be recovered from a bona fide purchaser. If property has been purchased for value by a bona fide purchaser, the owner may recover his property from the purchaser only in cases that are strictly defined by law (Civil Code of the RSFSR, arts. 152 and 153).